WEAPONS Training must, of course, fall into its true perspective
with other branches of training, but it is so vital a part
that those who specialise in Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Signalling,
etc., must forgive me if, in this article, I should appear
to overestimate its importance.
These reflections cover a period of over four years during
which there have been three Weapons Training Officers at B.H.Q.
In chronological order they are myself, Major Hodgkin and
I feel that we who have held the appointment, and those who
have assisted us, have every reason to congratulate ourselves
on the fact that during the whole of this time no serious
accident occurred, although the men handled an enormous quantity
of dangerous weapons, grenades and bombs. To quote Hodgkin,
we were successful rather than fortunate.
Our first defensive weapon was the Molotof Cocktail. This
was in use in the very early days of the L.D.V. and consisted
of a preparation of paraffin and tar poured into a bottle,
any bottle shaped
like a beer-bottle serving the purpose. The
bottle was then sealed and a piece of cotton-wool secured
at the neck by wire. The idea was to soak the cotton-wool
in petrol, ignite it, and throw the bottle
against some hard surface such as a tank or lorry, when it
would break and the contents immediately burst into flame.
Each company made its own Molotofs, with the result that throughout
the Battalion there must have been many hundreds of these
bottles. I remember that our C.O., together with Major Stephens,
Capt. Howarth and myself tested a number of these against
the bridge in Stillwell Lane, Aldridge. Everything went according
to plan, but when we had finished throwing them, the road
was strewn with broken glass, which all had to be picked up
- an anticlimax. I rather fancy that it must have flashed
through the mind of each one of us that the man who would
risk getting near enough to German transport and throwing
a Molotof at it would deserve the V.C. - posthumous, of course.
About the time of this Molotof Cocktail activity, various
men were selected to be attached to B.H.Q. to deal with the
volume of paper work that passed through the office. It was